“Council Tackles Housing Diversity”
A recent article in the Gazette styled “Council Tackles Housing Diversity” seems to raise more questions than it answers.
Although one can understand Councillor Prefontaine’s desire to produce more affordable housing, I am not prepared to hold my breath waiting for that to actually occur. To effect affordable housing would take fundamental structural changes in the city’s operation. The high cost of housing in St. Albert is clearly linked to the high rate of property taxation. People in the more modest income brackets look at the tax rate in St. Albert and compare it with other places in the Capital Region and elect to live in areas with a lower taxation rate.
Developers and builders are well aware of this economic fact and hence design and build in St. Albert to cater to persons with more disposable income. This then produces a plethora of high end housing. This reality has existed and has re-enforced itself in this city for years, and the result is that some of the highest costs for housing in the Capital Region are found in St. Albert.
It seems doubtful as to whether Carol Bergum’s tweaking of lot sizes, Crouse’s motion to ban discussion of back lanes and alleyways, or Prefontaine’s rather amusingl pose in front of a condo complex will do much to change that economic reality.
What is this whole exercise actually about? Prefontaine says that “Community here is not about houses, it is about people.” which is like saying “ice cream tastes better if you don’t nuke it in the micro-wave for 5 minutes.” Osborne says “This can’t just be an economic argument. I think this is a philosophical conversation about who we are as a community.” Both statements are left-wing code words for income re-distribution. So it seems that Dick Plain has it right when he says this is all about a cost-shifting exercise.
Since they are unable or unprepared to make the fundamental structural changes that are required to reduce taxes … and since high property tax is a fundamental cause of the high cost of housing, their solution will be to impose a higher incidence of tax on the existing single family dwellings to give the government money for some sort of subsidized housing scheme.
That sort of thinking is circular since it will simply escalate property taxes for most taxpayers even further. Hence, the problem of producing affordable housing will not actually be solved …. but it will create an regulatory environment which requires even more bureaucrats to administer.
It seems that instead of the Gazette saying "Council Tackles Housing Diversity" it would have been more apt to say "Council Plays Touch Football with Housing Diversity."